Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Skinny People Singing About Architecture and Media

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons, packed up & ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway
A place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance, I`m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone now, lived in the ghetto
I’ve lived all over this town

-Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

The following blog post references two issues of AD (Architectural Design), a periodical journal published by Wiley. The two issues are themetically related. The first, entitled Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design (ISBN: 978-0-470-51687-4, Paperback, 144 pages, April 2008), is guest-edited by Michael Hensel and Achim Menges. It focusses of the performative aspects of this type of design. The second issue, entitled Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design (ISBN: 978-0-470-01529-2, Paperback, 128 pages, May 2006) was published two years earlier, and as the title suggests, concerns techniques and technologies. It was edited by Michael Hensel, Achim Menges and Michael Weinstock. Due to the somewhat varied selections of the specific articles noted, I consulted the Wiley website for a concordance fo the titles, authors, and tables of contents, and also the context of articles that were not in the assigned reading.

AD Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design - April 2008

AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design - May 2006

If you are not interested in the full table of contents concordances, the issue summaries themselves are worth the trip, to give perspective on the nature of the reading.

Given the very specific nature of these essays, I decided to give 'ole Wikipedia a try on morphogenesis. The specific definition helps me understand generally the nature of the readings and the level of detail the authors are going into. Clearly, the publications' editors, and the individual article authors in both issues are a tight-knit group. The shade of meaning between morphogenetic design and morpho-ecological design are not so different and quite nuanced. It sort of makes sense to read them in temporal order by date of publication.

As a meditation on emergence and self-organization, the assigned articles in AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design, namely Towards Self-Organizational and Multiple Performance Capacity in Architecture by Michael Hensel, Polymorphism by Achim Menges, and Self-Organisation and Material Constructions by Michael Weinstock, reveal projects that embody the theories present in the essays. The authors share the view that design of architectural spaces share an ecological relationship to their environment. In addition, they share a relationship to evolution as the exist as part of prior formulations of architectures in a given space. Into this discussion go materials, energy systems, and and other types of organizational systems, all of which can and should be called into question.

The first article assigned in AD Techniques and Technologies in Morphogenetic Design is the introduction to the issue, outlining the various essays and sections. The second assigned reading Achim Menges' Polymorphism, introduces several interesting morphogenetic geometries: membrane morphologies (also referrend to as form-finding and dynamic relaxation), differential surface actuation, component differentiation and proliferation, honeycomb morphologies (or generative algorithmic definition), fibrous surfaces (digital growth and ontogenetic drifts). Of these, I thought form-finding and dynamic relaxation was the coolest, probably becuase of the exploration of multiparametric approach. I found a similar example not in the text here:


In Self-Organisation and Material Constructions, Michael Weinstock explores the boundary between the natural and the manufactured. He examines cellular structures, polymers, liquid crystals, Kevlar, and foam for their unique structural properties.

The first section of the reading, the assigned articles from AD Versatility and Vicissitude: Performance in Morpho-Ecological Design, discuss the performance characteristics of these types of designs. From the Wiley summary:
"a milieu of conditions, modulations and microclimates that emanate from an object's exchange with its specific environment, a dynamic relationship that is perceived and interacted with by a subject. A synergetic employment of performance and morpho-ecological techniques combine to create integral design solutions that will render an alternative model for sustainability. This issue presents historical precursors and precedents for this approach, as well as the current state of the art of morpho-ecological design."
So these authors, namely Peter Trummer in Engineering Ecologies, Michael Hensel and Achim Menges (again) in Designing Morphoecologies: Versatility and Vicissitude of Heterogeneous Space, Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby in Renewable Types and the Urban Plan, Valentina Croci in The Use of the cellular and New Digital Mapping: The Social Call, Michael Hensel, Defne Sunguroglu and Achim Menges (again) in Material Performance and Michael Hensel and Achim Menges (again!) in Membrane Spaces are concerned with the ecology of the architectures with the spaces and their histories. Architecture should be thought of as a life form here, part of the living breathing earth. Of these articles, the one that caught my attention was The Use of the cellular and New Digital Mapping: The Social Call by Valentina Croci. This is because she addresses the architecture of media as part of a space. Very similar to the work we are doing in class this semester at least in terms of creating social spaces and other reading we have done (I am thinking fall 08 readings about augmented reality).

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